Hospitals Are Mining Patients’ Credit Card Data to Predict Who Will Get Sick

Business Week
By Shannon Pettypiece and Jordan Robertson

Imagine getting a call from your doctor if you let your gym membership lapse, make a habit of buying candy bars at the checkout counter, or begin shopping at plus-size clothing stores. For patients of Carolinas HealthCare System, which operates the largest group of medical centers in North and South Carolina, such a day could be sooner than they think. Carolinas HealthCare, which runs more than 900 care centers, including hospitals, nursing homes, doctors’ offices, and surgical centers, has begun plugging consumer data on 2 million people into algorithms designed to identify high-risk patients so that doctors can intervene before they get sick. The company purchases the data from brokers who cull public records, store loyalty program transactions, and credit card purchases.

Information on consumer spending can provide a more complete picture than the glimpse doctors get during an office visit or through lab results, says Michael Dulin, chief clinical officer for analytics and outcomes research at Carolinas HealthCare. The Charlotte-based hospital chain is placing its data into predictive models that give risk scores to patients. Within two years, Dulin plans to regularly distribute those scores to doctors and nurses who can then reach out to high-risk patients and suggest changes before they fall ill. “What we are looking to find are people before they end up in trouble,” says Dulin, who is a practicing physician.

For a patient with asthma, the hospital would be able to assess how likely he is to arrive at the emergency room by looking at whether he’s refilled his asthma medication at the pharmacy, has been buying cigarettes at the grocery store, and lives in an area with a high pollen count, Dulin says. The system may also look at the probability of someone having a heart attack by considering factors such as the type of foods she buys and if she has a gym membership. “The idea is to use Big Data and predictive models to think about population health and drill down to the individual levels,” he says.

While Carolinas HealthCare can share patients’ risk assessments with their doctors under the hospital’s contract with its data provider, the health-care chain isn’t allowed to disclose details, such as specific transactions by an individual, says Dulin, who declined to name the data provider.

If the early steps are successful, though, Dulin says he’d like to renegotiate to get the data provider to share more specific details with the company’s doctors on their patients’ spending habits. “The data is already used to market to people to get them to do things that might not always be in the best interest of the consumer,” he says. “We are looking to apply this for something good.”

Many patients and their advocates are voicing concerns that Big Data’s expansion into medical care will threaten privacy. “It is one thing to have a number I can call if I have a problem or question; it is another thing to get unsolicited phone calls. I don’t like that,” says Jorjanne Murry, an accountant in Charlotte who has Type 1 diabetes and says she usually ignores calls from her health insurer trying to discuss her daily habits. “I think it is intrusive.”

Health advocates and privacy experts worry that relying more on data analysis also will erode doctor-patient relationships. “If the physician already has the information, the relationship changes from an exchange of information to a potential inquisition about behavior,” says Ryan Holmes, assistant director of health care ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

Data brokers have revealed few details on what they sell to health-care providers, and those acquiring the data are often barred from disclosing which company they purchased it from. Acxiom (ACXM) and LexisNexis (ENL) are two of the largest data brokers that collect information on individuals. Acxiom says its data are supposed to be used only for marketing, not for medical purposes or to be included in medical records. LexisNexis says it doesn’t sell consumer information to health insurers for the purpose of identifying patients at risk.

While some patients may benefit from data collection, hospitals also have a growing financial stake in knowing more about the people they care for. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, hospital pay is becoming increasingly linked to quality metrics rather than the traditional fee-for-service model in which hospitals are paid based on the numbers of tests or procedures they perform. As a result, the U.S. has begun levying fines on hospitals that have too many patients readmitted within a month and rewarding hospitals that fare well against clinical benchmarks and on patient surveys.

Micro-Chipped Pharmaceuticals Given Green Light by Medical Totalitarians

Waking Times
by Christina Sarich

Proteus Digital Health which recently changed their name from Proteus Biomedical has been given approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to dose you with a micro-chipped pill. The company has been working with the FDA since 2008, at its own admission, to ‘determine the regulatory pathway for this new technology.’ Just weeks ago, this ‘technology’ application was processed ‘in accordance with the de novo provisions of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for low-risk devices that have no predicate on the market.’

While these initial observances of the micro-chip scanning pill seem fairly benign, there are people with concerns that these micro-chips will be used for more nefarious reasons.

Proteus Digital Health which recently changed their name from Proteus Biomedical has been given approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to dose you with a micro-chipped pill. The company has been working with the FDA since 2008, at its own admission, to ‘determine the regulatory pathway for this new technology.’ Just weeks ago, this ‘technology’ application was processed ‘in accordance with the de novo provisions of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for low-risk devices that have no predicate on the market.’

While swallowing a micro-chip-filled pill which is approximately the size of a grain of rice may have no physical risk (though this is obviously debatable since the body usually tries to purge anything that doesn’t belong in it), it certainly brings up important ethical questions about the right to privacy and the valid concern that this precedent setting allowance by the FDA will allow other micro-chipped ‘medicines’ to be used to control the masses.

Proteus states, “this pill will contain a tiny sensor that can communicate, via our digital health feedback system, vital information about your medication-taking behaviors and how your body is responding.” The whole point of the pill is to verify patient compliance with taking their prescribed medicines.

As GreenMedInfo points out, there is a huge market in making sure we stay compliant in our drug taking. Just an 18% improvement in ‘taking our meds’ would translate to an additional $8000 per patient per year. Even more alarming is that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was prominently displayed as a partner on the Proteus Digital Health website, but have been recently removed. Other investors including Medtronic, Itochu, St. Jude Medical, and Kaiser Permanente Ventures have helped the company raise more than $170 million for just this type of research and development.

Along with the sensor pill, the company has developed a biometric sensor patch which you can peel and stick to your skin that can send information to a smart phone app. The patch records when a pill is ingested and even keeps track of sleep patterns and physical activity levels.

While these initial observances of the micro-chip scanning pill seem fairly benign, there are people with concerns that these micro-chips will be used for more nefarious reasons. Mandatory microchipping has been present in the Obama health bills but disguised with ambiguous language. Aldous Huxley once warned us of scientific dictatorship in his book Brave New World written in 1932, and it looks like he was spot on.

“Unless we choose to decentralize and to use applied science…as the means to producing a race of free individuals, we have only two alternatives to choose from: either a number of national, militarized totalitarianisms, having as their root the terror of the atomic bomb…or else one supra-national totalitarianism, called into existence by the social chaos…and developing, under the need for efficiency and stability, into the welfare-tyranny of Utopia.

All things considered, it looks as though Utopia were far closer to us than anyone, only fifteen years ago could have imagined. Today [in 1946] it seems quite possible that the horror may be upon us in a single century.”

How Schools Use Fear to Brainwash Students to Trust the System: A Parent’s Story

Activist Post
by Melissa Melton

The school went on lockdown mode without even bothering to inform me, her parent, and while it turned out to be nothing at all, the impression left on my child that day will not soon be forgotten.

In 2005, a federal court upheld that our nation’s public schools trump parent rights:

Parents and politicians alike were shocked when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled on Nov. 2 that parents’ fundamental right to control the upbringing of their children “does not extend beyond the threshold of the school door,” and that a public school has the right to provide its students with “whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise.

The court went on to clarify:

Parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed.

What this decision essentially says is that, as a parent, your rights to control what your children are being taught end at the school door.

Mainstream media reports continue to reveal the larger government indoctrination agenda at work in America’s public school system.

One California elementary school hosted a “toy gun buyback program” last week aimed at scaring kids into getting rid of anything even resembling a fake gun, and ultimately, to scare them away from active self defense, real gun ownership and the natural right to bear arms protected by our 2nd Amendment.

According to a CBS affiliate in San Francisco, the school’s principal held the event “as a lesson for children who may see guns as part of everyday life”:

“As they get older, it becomes just a natural thing,” [Principal] Hill told KPIX 5. “If they have a real gun in their hand, they’ll pull the trigger just as quick. I mean, they don’t fear it.”

The key word there? Fear. As in, ‘they don’t fear guns’ enough…yet.

These programs are popping up at schools and churches across the nation following the Sandy Hook shooting last December. Since the tragedy, schools have gone overboard hyping the fear of guns and pushing gun control programming into overdrive, with young kids being suspended and arrested all over the country for paper guns, pink bubble guns and even making their fingers into the shape of a gun on the playground during a harmless game of ‘cops and robbers’.

Likewise, schools across the country like my daughter’s have begun jumping at ghosts, going into lockdown mode for almost any reason and putting the kids on a perpetual fear roller coaster akin to the atomic bomb drills following World War II.

While fear rules the day at our nation’s public schools, the flipside to this coin is a continual normalization of total compliance with the system.

CBS Los Angeles recently reported that new palm scanners in two local schools would “speed up the lunch lines”. These schools join others who have implemented similar biometric payment systems that read vein patterns connected to the children’s meal plans with an infrared light.

Parents in Louisiana spoke out against the new palm scanners in their children’s school cafeteria, calling the program the Mark of the Beast. School officials there were quick to defend the system, saying these palm scans are just more “technology that is used throughout our lives. Everywhere.”

Everywhere, indeed. Poor argument actually, because if it is the Mark of the Beast, then wouldn’t it technically need to be everywhere?

Elsewhere in Florida, one school district was testing a new iris scanning software without even informing the parents at all. When the parents found out and protested, and the program got shut down, the media reported that it “could keep kids safer,” as if to imply the parents were just not as concerned for their children’s safety as the school was that they would deny their kids the ability to have their irises scanned every time they get on a school bus.

Other schools are forcing students to wear RFID tracking chips that trace their every step via computer. It began in one San Antonio, Texas school district, and when a student spoke out because she felt the practice infringed on her religious beliefs, she was kicked out of school for refusal to be chipped. Her case went all the way to federal court before being struck down, setting a precedent that student rights — religious or otherwise — no longer matter once our children set foot on school grounds.

There’s a reason Rutherford Institute founder and constitutional lawyer John Whitehead refers to schools as one more part of America’s ever-expanding ‘electronic concentration camp‘. Our kids are being taught that giving up privacy and basic freedom to go about their daily lives chipped, tracked and trace is normal.

Many American parents cannot afford private schools and do not have the time or ability to homeschool their kids, leaving their children at the mercy of public schools as their only viable education option. The Obama Administration has been toying with the idea of a federal preschool program and longer school days with less summer vacation. That means that, all waking hours considered, students will spend more time for more of their adolescent lives at school than at home with their families. Parents will have to work extra hard on building up their children’s critical thinking skills, to help them wade through a river of government propaganda to find the kernels of truth.

Refusing Smart Meters to Protect Your Health and Privacy

Waking Times
by Anna Hunt

Smart meters are being deployed by electric companies worldwide, replacing old, yet functioning analog meters, because it gives them a way to interact with the homes of their customers, monitor electricity consumption, and offer “smart home” control and functionality. Oh, and let’s not forget that they also save money. At least this the big sales pitch they are giving us.

By providing detailed information about the energy usage in your home, smart meters can alert you if your new smart refrigerator suddenly becomes an electricity hog and needs to be serviced, if your kids had a party when you were off on a business trip, or if you forgot to turn off your smart stove before you left for work.

Goodbye Privacy – Hello Big Brother

Depending on the functionality of the meter, the smart meter may be able to track how much electricity is used within each room of the home, as well as how much is used by the various new smart appliances in your house. Just as the smart meters can communicate wirelessly with devices such as TV sets or tablets to show you your electrical consumption, they also communicate this information with the power company, which keeps records about the volumes and patterns associated with your daily life.

Below is a video that explores the privacy implications of this data exchange. With this information, whoever has access to the data can get a pretty clear picture of your life: how much time you spend out of the house and at what time of the day; when you watch TV the most; when you are on vacation; if it looks like you’re running a business out of your home; and so forth. The implications for personal surveillance are staggering.

Governments, law enforcement agencies, and even companies will be able to access the data housed by the electric company (which the government is already doing to enforce business licenses). The implications are even more serious considering that such intimate personal data about your daily life can be easily intercepted by hackers as it is broadcast over the radio waves.

Electromagnetic Radiation and Your Health

This short video that shows a resident measuring the radio signals sent from the smart meter using microwave radiation. This man decided to make this video because within 3-months of the installation of a new smart meter, the shrubbery around the smart meter mysteriously died, although it thrived around the old electrical meter without any problems and continues to thrive a certain distance beyond the meter.

Advocates of smart meters will tell you that the wireless radiation emitted by these devices is within “safe levels,” often referencing ‘decades of research,’ much of which has been funded by the companies that make the smart meters. Unfortunately, many are beginning to suffer with insomnia, headaches and other illnesses after the installation of a smart meter.

In May of 2011, the World Health Organization official recognized that wireless radiation such as emitted by “smart meters” is a possible carcinogen. – source

What Can You Do?

Are you going to allow the power company to install a radiation-emitting surveillance device on your home?

Here’s an interview with a woman from Illinois that refused to have one installed on her house, informed the electric company of her decision by writing, yet was eventually arrested when the police and electric company crew came once again to install the meter on her house.

Power companies will typically install these devices on your home based on “implied consent” unless you make it clear that you do not grant permission for them to switch out your old meter or add any new device to your home. Some utilities companies, for example PG&E in California, are charging “opt-out” fees of customers refusing the smart meters, in an attempt to dissuade people from opting out as well as to cover “the cost of paying workers to read the analog meters each month.” (source)

The opposition to smart meters is growing everyday as more people learn about the sinister implications of these devices.

In Texas, Republican Senator Dennis Bonnen has threatened to draft legislation that would allow all residents to opt-out from the Public Utility Commission’s smart meter’s initiative.